The Software development life cycle (SDLC), also referred to
as the application development life-cycle, is a term used in systems engineering,
information systems and software engineering to describe a process for planning,
creating, testing, and deploying an information system. The systems development
life-cycle concept applies to a range of hardware and software configurations, as a
system can be composed of hardware only, software only, or a combination of both.
A Software development life cycle is composed of a number of
clearly defined and distinct work phases which are used by systems engineers and
systems developers to plan for, design, build, test, and deliver information
systems. Like anything that is manufactured on an assembly line, an SDLC aims to
produce high-quality systems that meet or exceed customer expectations, based on
customer requirements, by delivering systems which move through each clearly defined
phase, within scheduled time frames and cost estimates. Computer systems are complex
and often (especially with the recent rise of service-oriented architecture) link
multiple traditional systems potentially supplied by different software vendors. To
manage this level of complexity, a number of SDLC models or methodologies have been
created, such as "waterfall", "spiral", "Agile software development", "rapid
prototyping", "incremental" and "synchronize and stabilize".
SDLC can be described along a spectrum of agile to iterative
to sequential. Agile methodologies, such as XP and Scrum, focus on lightweight
processes which allow for rapid changes (without necessarily following the pattern
of SDLC approach) along the development cycle. Iterative methodologies, such as
Rational Unified Process and dynamic systems development method, focus on limited
project scope and expanding or improving products by multiple iterations. Sequential
or big-design-up-front (BDUF) models, such as waterfall, focus on complete and
correct planning to guide large projects and risks to successful and predictable
results(citation needed). Other models, such as anamorphic development, tend to
focus on a form of development that is guided by project scope and adaptive
iterations of feature development.
In project management a project can be defined both with a
project life cycle (PLC) and an SDLC, during which slightly different activities
occur. According to Taylor (2004), "the project life cycle encompasses all the
activities of the project, while the systems development life cycle focuses on
realizing the product requirements".
SDLC is used during the development of an IT project, it
describes the different stages involved in the project from the drawing board,
through the completion of the project.
The system development life cycle framework provides a
sequence of activities for system designers and developers to follow. It consists of
a set of steps or phases in which each phase of the SDLC uses the results of the
The SDLC adheres to important phases that are essential for
developers, such as planning, analysis, design, and implementation, and are
explained in the section below. It includes evaluation of present system,
information gathering, feasibility study and request approval. A number of SDLC
models have been created waterfall, fountain, spiral, build and fix, rapid
prototyping, incremental, synchronize and stabilize. The oldest of these, and the
best known, is the waterfall model a sequence of stages in which the output of each
stage becomes the input for the next. These stages can be characterized and divided
up in different ways, including the following
Preliminary Analysis :
The objective of phase 1 is to conduct a preliminary
analysis, propose alternative solutions, describe costs and benefits and submit a
preliminary plan with recommendations.
Conduct the Preliminary Analysis :
In this step, you need to find out the organization's
objectives and the nature and scope of the problem under study. Even if a problem
refers only to a small segment of the organization itself, you need to find out what
the objectives of the organization itself are. Then you need to see how the problem
being studied with them.
Propose Alternative Solutions :
In digging into the organization's objectives and specific
problems, you may have already covered some solutions. Alternate proposals may come
from interviewing employees, clients, suppliers, and/or consultants. You can also
study what competitors are doing. With this data, you will have three choices :
1. leave the system as it is,
2. improve it,
3. develop a new system.
Systems Analysis, Requirements Definition :
Defines project goals into defined functions and operation
of the intended application. It is the process of gathering and interpreting facts,
diagnosing problems and recommending improvements to the system. Analyzes end-user
information needs and also removes any inconsistencies and incompleteness in these
A series of steps followed by the developer are
Collection of Facts :
End user Requirements are obtained through documentation,
client interviews, observation and questionnaires.
Scrutiny of the Existing System :
Identify pros and cons of the current system in-place, so as
to carry forward the pros and avoid the cons in the new system.
Analyzing the Proposed System :
Solutions to the shortcomings in step two are found and any
specific user proposals are used to prepare the specifications.
Systems Design :
Describes desired features and operations in detail,
including screen layouts, business rules, process diagrams, pseudocode and other
Integration and testing :
Brings all the pieces together into a special testing
environment, then checks for errors, bugs and interoperability.
Acceptance, Installation, Deployment :
The final stage of initial development, where the software
is put into production and runs actual business.
During the maintenance stage of the SDLC, the system is
assessed to ensure it does not become obsolete. This is also where changes are made
to initial software. It involves continuous evaluation of the system in terms of its
Some companies do not view this as an official stage of the
SDLC, while others consider it to be an extension of the maintenance stage, and may
be referred to in some circles as post-implementation review. This is where the
system that was developed, as well as the entire process, is evaluated. Some of the
questions that need to be answered include does the newly implemented system meet
the initial business requirements and objectives? Is the system reliable and
fault-tolerant? Does the system function according to the approved functional
requirements? In addition to evaluating the software that was released, it is
important to assess the effectiveness of the development process. If there are any
aspects of the entire process, or certain stages, that management is not satisfied
with, this is the time to improve. Evaluation and assessment is a difficult issue.
However, the company must reflect on the process and address weaknesses.
In this phase, plans are developed for discarding system
information, hardware and software in making the transition to a new system. The
purpose here is to properly move, archive, discard or destroy information, hardware
and software that is being replaced, in a manner that prevents any possibility of
unauthorized disclosure of sensitive data. The disposal activities ensure proper
migration to a new system. Particular emphasis is given to proper preservation and
archival of data processed by the previous system. All of this should be done in
accordance with the organization's security requirements.
System Investigation :
The system investigates the IT proposal. During this step,
we must consider all current priorities that would be affected and how they should
be handled. Before any system planning is done, a feasibility study should be
conducted to determine if creating a new or improved system is a viable solution.
This will help to determine the costs, benefits, resource requirements, and specific
user needs required for completion. The development process can only continue once
management approves of the recommendations from the feasibility study.
Following are different components of the feasibility study :
- Operational feasibility.
- Economic feasibility.
- Technical feasibility.
- Human factors feasibility.
- Declaimer/Political feasibility.
- System analysis.
The goal of system analysis is to determine where the
problem is, in an attempt to fix the system. This step involves breaking down the
system in different pieces to analyze the situation, analyzing project goals,
breaking down what needs to be created and attempting to engage users so that
definite requirements can be defined.
In systems design, the design functions and operations are
described in detail, including screen layouts, business rules, process diagrams and
other documentation. The output of this stage will describe the new system as a
collection of modules or subsystems.
The design stage takes as its initial input the requirements
identified in the approved requirements document. For each requirement, a set of one
or more design elements will be produced as a result of interviews, workshops,
and/or prototype efforts.
Design elements describe the desired system features in
detail, and generally include functional hierarchy diagrams, screen layout diagrams,
tables of business rules, business process diagrams, pseudo-code, and a complete
entity-relationship diagram with a full data dictionary. These design elements are
intended to describe the system in sufficient detail, such that skilled developers
and engineers may develop and deliver the system with minimal additional input
Environments are controlled areas where systems developers
can build, distribute, install, configure, test, and execute systems that move
through the SDLC. Each environment is aligned with different areas of the SDLC and
is intended to have specific purposes. Examples of such environments include the :
Development Environment :
where developers can work independently of each other before
trying to merge their work with the work of others.
Common Build Environment :
where merged work can be built, together, as a combined
Systems Integration Testing Environment :
where basic testing of a system's integration points to
other upstream or downstream systems can be tested.
User Acceptance Testing Environment :
where business stakeholders can test against their original
Production Environment :
where systems finally get deployed to, for final use by
their intended end users.
The code is tested at various levels in software testing.
Unit, system and user acceptance testings are often performed. This is a grey area
as many different opinions exist as to what the stages of testing are and how much,
if any iteration occurs. Iteration is not generally part of the waterfall model, but
the means to rectify defects and validate fixes prior to deployment is incorporated
into this phase.
The following are types of testing that may be relevant,
depending on the type of system under development :
- Defect testing the failed scenarios,
including defect tracking.
- Path testing.
- Data set testing Unit testing.
- System testing.
- Integration testing.
- Black-box testing.
- White-box testing.
- Regression testing.
- Automation testing.
- User acceptance testing.
- Software performance testing.
- Training and Transition.
Once a system has been stabilized through adequate testing,
the SDLC ensures that proper training on the system is performed or documented
before transitioning the system to its support staff and end users.
Training usually covers operational training for those
people who will be responsible for supporting the system as well as training for
those end users who will be using the system after its delivery to a production
After training has been successfully completed, systems
engineers and developers transition the system to its final production environment,
where it is intended to be used by its end users and supported by its support and
Operations and Maintenance :
The deployment of the system includes changes and
enhancements before the decommissioning or sunset of the system. Maintaining the
system is an important aspect of SDLC. As key personnel change positions in the
organization, new changes will be implemented. There are two approaches to system
development there is the traditional approach (structured) and object oriented.
Information Engineering includes the traditional system approach, which is also
called the structured analysis and design technique. The object oriented approach
views the information system as a collection of objects that are integrated with
each other to make a full and complete information system.
The final phase of the SDLC is to measure the effectiveness
of the system and evaluate potential enhancements.